The Monnaie de Paris has released new collector coins which are part of their ongoing series entitled “The 7 Arts,” which focuses on seven specific disciplines in the world of art and culture, including additional elements of an art, an artist, and a place. The latest coins feature Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918), considered one of the greatest French poets of the 20th century. Born Guglielmo Apollinaris de Kostrowitzki in Rome, Italy, he was the son of a Polish émigrée and an Italian officer, and for the most part, he kept his origins secret.
At the age of 20, Apollinaire set off for Paris where he led a somewhat Bohemian life, but by 1901, he grew tired of the city and made his way to Germany where he spent several months. His new surroundings had a profound effect on him, which helped to awaken him to his poetic vocation. Apollinaire later declared that he fell under the spell of the Rhineland and later recaptured the beauty of its forests and its legends in his poetry. Apollinaire also fell in love with a young Englishwoman, whom he pursued (unsuccessfully) all the way to London. His romantic disappointment did, however, inspire him to write his famous “Chanson du mal-aimé” (“Song of the Poorly Loved”).
When he returned to Paris, Apollinaire became well-known as a writer who also frequented the same cafés patronised by other literary men of the day. During this time, he made friends with some young painters who were to become famous, including Maurice de Vlaminck, André Derain, Raoul Dufy, and most noteworthy, Pablo Picasso. He introduced his contemporaries to Henri Rousseau’s paintings, and with Picasso, he applied himself to the task of defining and perfecting the principles of a Cubist aesthetic in literature as well as painting. His work about the subject entitled ”Peintures cubists” was published in 1913 and re-published again as “Cubist Painters”, in 1944.
His first volume of poems, which was entitled “L’Enchanteur pourrissant,” was published in 1909 and was a strange dialogue in poetic prose between the magician Merlin and the nymph Viviane. The following year, he produced a collection of vivid stories, some whimsical, and some wildly fantastic, that he published under the title “L’Hérésiarque et Cie.” In 1911, he penned “Le Bestiaire 1911” to marginal reviews, but it was his poetic masterpiece entitled “Alcools” published in 1913 when he achieved his reputation for excellence. In these poems, he retold all his life’s experiences and expressed them sometimes in short unrhymed lines, always without punctuation.
With the events unfolding in 1914 following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Apollinaire enlisted, becoming a second lieutenant in the infantry, receiving a head wound in 1916. After his discharge that same year, he returned to Paris and published a somewhat symbolic story entitled “Le Poète assassiné” and more significantly, a new collection of poems entitled “Calligrammes” two years later, which was dominated by images of war and his obsession with a new love affair. However, with his injuries sustained during the fighting, he was essentially weakened by war wounds and as so many had succumbed to illness at this time, he died of Spanish influenza, aged just 38.
The coins are designed by famed fashion artist Christian Lacroix, who offers a unique insight to numismatic and medal design with these coins, which also mark the centenary year of Apollinaire’s passing. The primary design includes the text in which the design and layout of the letters create a visual image related to the meaning of the words themselves of Guillaume Apollinaire’s own homage to the Eiffel Tower. In the background, a landscape inspired by one of his famous poems, “Pont Mirabeau”, is represented.
The reverse highlights a front-facing portrait of the writer which is behind a background of firs as a reference to his poem named “Les Sapins.” The face value (10 or 50 EURO) and the text GUILLAUME APOLLINAIRE are shown below the likeness of the artist.
|€10||.900 Silver||22.2 g||37 mm||Proof||1,000|
|€50||.999 Gold||7.78 g||22 mm||Proof||250|
These are the six coin designs in the series dedicated to the 7 Arts begun in 2013. The other coins in the series are as follows:
2017 — Sculpture, Auguste Rodin
2016 — Cinema, Jean Gabin
2015 — Architecture, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret LE CORBUSIER
2014 — Music, Jean-Philippe Rameau
2013 — Dance, Rudolf Noureev
The series concludes next year with the discipline of painting to be added. For additional information aboute these coins and others available from the Monnaie de Paris, please visit their website.